Once my ex-wife decided that she didn’t want to be married to me anymore, the first phase of our split went into full effect. It’s a difficult phase, but the most real example of our relationship’s demise . . . the actual splitting of assets. I talked about this in my previous blog titled The End. I’ll skip over this phase here because it’s painful and not the point of this particular blog. I’m sure I’ll revisit this part at some time, but not today. It’s still too raw although it was 7 years ago. So, What Now?
The Night Before
I remember the night before my ex-moved out, I snuck out of bed and took a bunch of photos. This was because I wanted some photos of our last night living as a couple. I didn’t know why I felt the need to do this, but I took them anyhow. Looking back 7 years ago, I realize that it was because I wanted to document the close to a HUGE chapter in my life. I remember how sad I was this day. How sad I was for my daughter and the “intact” family she’d never know, and I was sad for myself heading into single-life. I had no idea what I was in store for. So, what now?
The day my ex-moved out, I asked if she would take a photo with Kailyn and Me in bed before she left, and she agreed. That’s the last photo of us as a family I’d ever have. I’ll save that for myself, but it’s one of my most cherished and painful photos to look at.
I’ve talked about how important photos are to me in my blog: Words of Wisdom. Photos are memories frozen in time for me to share or keep to myself. I spend hundreds of hours a year looking at previous photos reminiscing on great times, and not so great times. It brings back memories, smells, feelings and HUGE emotions. They’re a wonderful thing.
Then she moved out. So, What Now?
I’ve never talked about this day before. In fact, I’d all but blocked out the memory in my mind. But I’ll tell you after writing this blog, I can remember the smells, the type of day it was, what Kailyn was wearing, and especially how sad I was.
The particular day that my ex moved out, the moving truck came, loaded up all of her possessions. I loaded the valuables in my truck with Kailyn and headed over to her boyfriend’s home (I didn’t know it was her boyfriend at the time. I thought my best friend was being kind by letting her live in his rental home).
After dropping off her stuff, we had one last hug, and I left Kailyn there to help her unpack. I don’t remember the drive home, but I can imagine what I was feeling. I don’t know why I was “blacked out”, but it’s part of the day I don’t remember. Skip ahead to me walking back in the house.
When I got back into the house, I first took photos of everything she had left behind including a 1/2 drank Tervis cup of water she left on the counter next to the packing tape. I didn’t look at that photo until recently, but when I took it I remember muttering to myself, “Ben you file this away. Once you’re ready to take a look at this photo and talk about it again, you’ll know you’re on the road to recovery.” So, what now?
After my photo session, I sat down at the piano and attempted to play. The piano has always been my emotional outlet. I’ve written some of the most beautiful songs while sad, and also some when I’ve been happy.
I couldn’t finish a song. I just cried and I thought my life was over. And to be honest, this part of my life was. So, now what?
Shameless plug . . . but if you want to check out my music on Spotify, you can do so here: Brownback Music on Spotify.
The Next Chapter
The scariest thing about starting over, is the unknown. I had no idea what to expect and what I was going to do with my life. As far as I knew, I had nothing. But I hadn’t even begun to think about what it was going to be like to be a single-father of a 2 year old.
In retrospect, I’m glad that I didn’t put much thought into it. Had I thought too hard about potty training, meals, school, etc., I think I would have been scared so shitless that I could have talked myself out of it. That would have been the biggest mistake of my life.
I’ve said to dozens of my friends, “What was I doing raising a 2 year old?”. When I see 2 year olds, I can’t imagine my 2012 self being responsible enough for this task. This leads me to the purpose of this blog, and I’m going to steal the tag-line from Nike: Just Do It.
Just Do It
So what now? Looking back at my life, there’s one common thread when I’ve faced adversity.
I just did it.
I’m no hero. I certainly don’t possess anything in my personality that you all don’t have in yours. There’s no inner strength I have, no wisdom I was passed on, or any answers that you don’t have. I just did it.
I think that’s the best part of life. When life throws a curveball, you are always ready to step up to the challenge . . . even if you don’t realize it at the time.
I Had A Great Example
I had a single mother growing up as a child. She always wanted more for me, but her example as a single mother was the greatest example that I didn’t know I needed.
We had one car and my brother and I were involved in a lot of sports, activities and musical programs. There is not ONE event that I don’t remember seeing my mom’s face at (except my wrestling meets, because she couldn’t stand the stress of watching me compete). To this day, I’m in awe at how she juggled her schedule. She was a 2nd grade teacher to two active boys, and she had to have sacrificed EVERYTHING to be EVERYTHING to us.
My mother is the greatest example of sacrifice for the sake of raising children as a single parent, and I’m just a fraction of what she was to my brother and Me. I guess you could say I’m lucky to have a role model like that for me in my current situation, but I know she wished things could have been different for me. That makes me appreciate her even more.
So, What Now?
I remember thinking this sentence a lot my first year as I tried to figure out how to raise an infant without screwing her up permanently. And I kept coming back to the phrase I ripped off . . . Just Do It.
Here’s a few mantra’s I lived during my brief time on earth as a single-dad.
- Don’t stop and think about what could be, because it’s not.
- Keep doing what you know to be best, because it probably is.
- Be the best parent you know you can be, because you are the best parent your children are ever going to have.
- Remember that your kids don’t know the difference, so create memories for them that they’ll remember for a lifetime.
- You can never take too many photos. The age your kids are right now is the youngest they’ll ever be.
- A hug or kiss can cure most any problem you come across.
- It’s ok to make mistakes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Kids are resilient. Cut yourself some slack.
- It’s ok to cry or drink wine at the end of the tough day. Sometimes it’s appropriate to have both.
- A little ice cream as an incentive is never a bad idea (unless your kid is lactose intolerant). 🙂
7 Years Later
My answer to “So, What Now”, is to just be PRESENT. You’ll hear me talk a lot about that. It’s really the most important thing I can tell you I’ve learned. When you’re a single parent, it’s just you and the child. Kailyn’s got me and I’ve got Kailyn. No matter who her mom marries, that doesn’t take away from what we have. I’ll always be her dad, and she’ll always be my little princess.
7 Years later, I’m still trying to figure it out. Now, it’s not about diapers, potty training and learning the alphabet. It’s about how to keep her from getting bullied, learning about hairstyles and how to reminder her that being popular isn’t as important as being kind. These are much different topics and I’m sure I’ll write about it sometime, but just know that I am FAR from having it figured out. And I think that’s the beauty of my blog . . . I don’t have all the answers, but I have a ton of questions yet to be answered. As I figured it out, I’ll share what I learn.
I’ll wish you luck, but I don’t say it in a sarcastic way. Sometimes you need someone to tell you they’re on your side and that they’re wishing you luck. We’re all in it together to place better people on this earth than when we came.
For my part (so far), I can say I’ll be able to leave the earth with my Kailyn who is going to do great things. I’m biased but she’s turned out to be such an amazing person and I’ll take a small amount of credit for that. Her mother gets credit as does her step-father. But for the purposes of this being MY BLOG, I’ll just take a little more. 🙂
I’ve been hearing from a lot of you lately, and I look forward to connecting with even more of you. Please comment, send me messages and let me know how you’re doing. One of the purposes of this blog was to create a community of people who feel like they’re doing it alone, when in fact, we’re all in it together.
Take care everyone. You’re doing a great job!